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 OJE  Vol.4 No.10 , July 2014
Do Epiphytes in Drier Climates Select Host Tree Substrates between Rough and Smooth Bole Textures and Crown and Stem, Vertical and Upright Stems? What Are the Implications for Water Catchment and Forest Management?
Abstract: Epiphyte biomass (dry weight kg) placement between rough and smooth bole bark textures; crown and trunk as well as upright and horizontal substrates in Lusenga National Park were examined through ground surveys. Transects were located at random in woody vegetation using quadrats 20 m × 20 m which were located every 100 m along 1 km long transects. For every host tree substrate sampled, tree species was identified and bark texture was determined. Presence and location of epiphytes were determined through direct observation. Epiphytes were collected, dried and weighed, so as to apportion biomass between rough and smooth bole textures, crown and trunk as well as stem inclination. Rough bole textured stems had more epiphytes of 1967 kg (89%) than smooth bole substrates of 313.48 kg (11%) and also inclined stems had higher biomass of 85% than vertical stems of 14.64% (χ2 = P < 0.005). Trunk had less biomass of 32% and crown had higher biomass of 68% (Mann Whitney U test 0.002 < P < 0.05). It was concluded that epiphytes were more abundant on rough bole textured substrates and in crown than stem. It would appear that rough bole textured substrates provided better physical anchorage and stability against dislodging forces of wind and rain water, hence being suitable for epiphyte establishment and survival. Inclined substrates on the other hand provided a suitable habitat for accumulation of debris and moisture retention, seed settling, germination, and maximum exposure to sunlight all of which support germination and growth of epiphytes. Further research is required to determine successional colonization, incidences of host species specificity, rain water interception and retention and impact of fire on epiphyte biomass as these are important water catchment attributes.
Cite this paper: Chomba, C. (2014) Do Epiphytes in Drier Climates Select Host Tree Substrates between Rough and Smooth Bole Textures and Crown and Stem, Vertical and Upright Stems? What Are the Implications for Water Catchment and Forest Management?. Open Journal of Ecology, 4, 641-652. doi: 10.4236/oje.2014.410054.
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